Domestic violence charges are serious criminal offenses. 

Section 2919.25 of the Ohio Revised Code defines domestic violence as knowingly or recklessly causing or attempting to cause physical harm to a family member or a member of your household. The law also makes it illegal to threaten physical harm to a family member or a member of your household.

Domestic violence charges can range from a first-degree misdemeanor to felony charges. The fines and penalties for a conviction can be severe. Depending on the victim and the circumstances, you could be sentenced to several years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Merely threatening a family member or household member could result in a month in jail and a fine of up to $250.

However, what happens when the victim decides not to press charges for domestic violence? Will the criminal charges be dropped if the victim changes his or her mind?

Can a Victim Decline to Press Charges for Domestic Violence in Dayton, OH?

You might assume that an alleged victim of domestic violence needs to press charges for the alleged attacker to be charged with a crime. However, the victim may have no say in the matter once law enforcement officers are involved in the situation.

Most reports of domestic violence begin with a call to 911. Either the alleged victim, another family member, or even a neighbor or bystander calls 911 to report that someone is committing domestic violence. The police arrive at the home and assess the situation.

At that point, the situation is out of the hands of the victim. The police will ask the victim what occurred and if they want to press charges. However, the police can arrest the alleged abuser even if the victim does not want to press charges when the police believe that a crime was committed.

The police may arrest the person because they believe that they are a threat to the victim, other family members, or the public. Police officers may arrest the person if there is evidence of physical harm to the victim or the victim is young or a vulnerable adult. The police only need probable cause to believe a crime was committed to make the arrest.

The Prosecutor’s Role in a Domestic Violence Case

The prosecutor reviews the police reports and statements made by the parties and eyewitnesses. A prosecutor may interview the victim to gain more information about the alleged domestic violence. The victim may tell the prosecutor that they do not want to press charges and that it was a mistake. 

However, it is up to the prosecutor to drop the charges or proceed with the case. Even if the victim does not want to press charges, the prosecutor may proceed because they believe the alleged abuser is a threat to the community or the victim. 

If the prosecutor does not believe a crime was committed, or there is insufficient evidence to gain a conviction, the prosecutor may drop the charges. Likewise, when the judge reviews the case, the judge could dismiss the case for lack of evidence or lack of probable cause.

What Happens if the Victim Refuses to Testify or Cooperate?

The case will go to trial even if the victim refuses to testify or cooperate. The judge may issue a subpoena requiring the victim to appear at trial to testify. If the victim refuses to appear, the judge could issue a bench warrant for the victim. 

If the victim refuses to testify at the trial, the judge may hold the victim in contempt of court. The victim could be jailed until they agree to testify. The prosecutor may use statements made to the police officers or the 911 operator to attack the victim’s testimony if they change their story on the witness stand.

Defending Yourself Against Allegations of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a serious problem that must be addressed within our communities and courts. Victims need to be protected. However, some allegations of domestic violence are false.

If you are charged with domestic violence, you need to talk with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. There may be one or more defenses available that could result in the charges being dismissed. If you decide to plead guilty, a criminal defense lawyer can negotiate the best possible plea deal available for your charges.

 It is always in your best interest to have legal counsel before talking to the police, the prosecutor, or the judge.